Old , tired , trembling the woman came to the cannery .
She had , she said , heard that the plant was closing .
It couldn't close , she said .
She had raised a calf , grown it beef-fat .
She had , with her own work-weary hands , put seeds in the ground , watched them sprout , bud , blossom , and get ready to bear .
She was ready to kill the beef , dress it out , and with vegetables from her garden was going to can soup , broth , hash , and stew against the winter .
She had done it last year , and the year before , and the year before that , and she , and her people were dependent upon these cans for food .
This did not happen in counties of North Georgia , where the rivers run and make rich the bottom land .
Nor in South Georgia , where the summer sun shines warmly and gives early life to the things growing in the flat fields .
This happened in Decatur , DeKalb County , not 10 miles from the heart of metropolitian Atlanta .
And now , the woman , tired and trembling , came here to the DeKalb County cannery .
`` Is it so the cannery is going to close '' ? ?
O. N. Moss , 61 , tall , grey as a possum , canning plant chief since 1946 , didn't know what to say .
He did say she could get her beef and vegetables in cans this summer .
He did say he was out of cans , the No. 3's , but `` I requisitioned 22,000 '' .
He said he had No. 2's enough to last two weeks more .
Threat of closing the cannery is a recent one .
A three-man committee has recommended to Commission Chairman Charles O. Emmerich that the DeKalb County cannery be closed .
Reason : the cannery loses $3,000 yearly .
But DeKalb citizens , those who use the facilities of the cannery , say the cannery is not supposed to make any money .
`` The cannery '' , said Mrs. Lewellyn Lundeen , an active booster of the cannery since its opening during the war and rationing years of 1941 , to handle the `` victory garden '' produce , `` is a service to the taxpayer .
And one of the best services available to the people who try to raise and can meat , to plant , grow vegetables and put them up .
It helps those people who help themselves .
`` The county , though , seems more interested in those people who don't even try , those who sit and draw welfare checks and line up for surplus food '' .
A driver of a dairy truck , who begins work at 1 a.m. finishes before breakfast , then goes out and grows a garden , and who has used the cannery to save and feed a family of five , asked , `` What in the world will we do '' ? ?
`` What in the world '' , echoed others , those come with the beans , potatoes , the tomatoes , `` will any of us do '' ? ?
Moss , a man who knows how much the cannery helps the county , doesn't believe it will close .
But he is in the middle , an employe of DeKalb , but on the side of the people .
The young married people ; ;
the old couples .
The dairy truck driver ; ;
the old woman with the stew .
`` Don't ask me if I think the cannery helps '' , he said .
`` Sir , I know the cannery helps '' .
Most of us would be willing to admit that forgiveness comes hard .
When a person has thoughtlessly or deliberately caused us pain or hardship it is not always easy to say , `` Just forget it '' .
There is one thing I know ; ;
a person will never have spiritual poise and inner peace as long as the heart holds a grudge .
I know a man who held resentment against a neighbor for more than three decades .
Several years ago I was his pastor .
One night , at the close of the evening service , he came forward , left his resentment at the altar and gave his heart to God .
After almost everyone had gone he told me the simple story of how one of his neighbors had moved a fence a few feet over on his land .
`` We tried to settle this dispute '' , he said , `` but could never come to an agreement .
I settled it tonight '' , he continued .
`` I leave this church with a feeling that a great weight has been lifted off my heart , I have left my grudge at the altar and forgiven my neighbor '' .
Forgiveness is the door through which a person must pass to enter the Kingdom of God .
You cannot wear the banner of God and at the same time harbor envy , jealousy and grudges in your heart .
Henry Van Dyke said , `` Forgive and forget if you can ; ;
but forgive anyway '' .
Jesus made three things clear about forgiveness .
We must , first of all , be willing to forgive others before we can secure God's forgiveness .
`` For if ye forgive men their trespasses , your heavenly Father will also forgive you : but if ye forgive not men their trespasses , neither will your Father forgive -- your trespasses '' .
Matthew 6 : 14-15 .
It will do no good to seek God's forgiveness until we have forgiven those who have done us wrong .
Then , Jesus indicated that God's forgiveness is unlimited .
In the prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray we find these words , `` Forgive us our debts '' .
When a person meets God's requirements for the experience of forgiveness he is forgiven .
God's mercy and patience will last forever .
Forgiveness implies more than a person wanting his past sins covered by God's love .
It also implies that a man wants his future to be free from the mistakes of the past .
We want the past forgiven , but at the same time we must be willing for God to direct the future .
Finally , we must be willing to forgive others as many times as they sin against us .
Once Peter asked , `` How oft shall my brother sin against me , and I forgive him ? ?
Till seven times ? ?
Jesus saith unto him , until seventy times seven '' .
Matthew 18 : 21-22 .
Jesus not only taught forgiveness , He gave us an example of it on the cross .
With all the energy of his broken body he prayed , `` Father , forgive them , for they know not what they do '' .
Luke 23:34 .
She's been in and out of my house for a dozen years now , although she's still a teen-ager who looks like a baby , she is getting married .
Her mother , now dead , was my good friend and when she came to tell us about her plans and to show off her ring I had a sobering wish to say something meaningful to her , something her mother would wish said .
For a while there was such shrill girlish commotion I couldn't have made myself heard if I'd had the equivalent of the message to Garcia .
But when some of the squeals had subsided and she had been through one of those sessions that are so indispensable to the young female -- six girls sprawled on one bed , drinking Cokes and giggling -- she came back to the kitchen to talk with me a minute .
`` How do you know you love somebody enough to get married '' ? ?
She asked .
It was the oldest and toughest question young lovers have ever asked : How can you be sure ? ?
`` Aren't you sure '' ? ?
I asked , looking at her searchingly .
I wanted to grab her by the arm and beg her to wait , to consider , to know for certain because life is so long and marriage is so important .
But if she were just having a normal case of pre-nuptial jitters such a question might frighten her out of a really good marriage .
Besides , in all honesty , I don't know how you can be sure .
I don't know any secret recipe for certainty .
In the fevered , intoxicating , breathless state of being in love the usual signposts that guide you to lasting and satisfying relationships are sometimes obscured .
I knew of but one test and I threw it out to her for what it was worth .
`` Does he ever bore you '' ? ?
I asked .
`` Bore me '' ? ?
She was shocked .
Oh , no-o ! !
Why , he's so darling and ''
`` I mean '' , I went on ruthlessly , `` when he's not talking about you or himself or the wonders of love , is he interesting ? ?
Does he care about things that matter to you ? ?
Can you visualize being stranded with him on a desert island for years and years and still find him fascinating ? ?
Because , honey , I thought silently , there are plenty of desert islands in every marriage -- long periods when you're hopelessly stranded , together .
And if you bore each other then , heaven help you .
She came back the other day to reassure me .
She has studied and observed and she is convinced that her young man is going to be endlessly enchanting .
She asked if I had other advice and , heady with success , I rushed it in , I hope not too late .
Be friends with your mother-in-law .
Jokes , cartoons and cynics to the contrary , mothers-in-law make good friends .
I do not know Dr. Wilson Sneed well .
But I was deeply moved by his letter of resignation as rector of St. Luke's Church in Atlanta .
It was the cry of not just one heart ; ;
it spoke for many in the clergy , I suspect .
The pulpit is a lonely place .
Who stops to think of that ? ?
Imagine the searching and the prayer that lay behind the letter the rector wrote after almost a decade of service to this majestic church .
`` Such a church needs vigor and vitality in its rector and one man has only so much of these endowments '' , he told his members .
A minister should not stay `` beyond the time that his leadership should benefit '' his church , he wrote , `` for he becomes ordinary .
And so the young minister resigned , to go and study and pray , having never passed a day , he told his parishioners , when `` I did not gain from you far more than I ever gave to you '' .
His very honest act called up the recent talk I had with another minister , a modest Methodist , who said : `` I feel so deeply blessed by God when I can give a message of love and comfort to other men , and I would have it no other way : and it is unworthy to think of self .
But oh , how I do sometimes need just a moment of rest , and peace , in myself '' .
A man who gives himself to God and to the believers of his church takes upon himself a life of giving .
He does not expect to get great riches or he would not have chosen to answer the call to preach .
The good ones are not motivated to seek vainly , nor are they disposed to covet comfort , or they would have been led to fields that offer comfort and feed vanity .
Theirs is a sacrificial life by earthly standards .
Yet we who lean upon such a man and draw strength from him and expect interpretation of the infinite through him -- we who readily accept his sacrifice as our due , we of the congregations are the first to tell him what is in our minds instead of listening to what is in his soul .
We press him to conform to our comfortable conceptions and not to bruise our satisfactions with his word , and God's .
We do not defeat the good ones with this cruelty , but we add to their burden , while expecting them to bestow saintliness upon us in return for ostentatious church attendance and a few bucks a week , American cash .
If we break the minister to our bit , we are buying back our own sins .
If he won't break , we add to the stress he bears .
And a minister of all men is most conscious that he is mere man -- prone to the stresses that earthly humanity is heir to .
We expect him to be noble , and to make us so -- yet he knows , and tries to tell us , how very humble man must be .
We expect bestowal of God's love through him .
But how little love we give him .
The church truly is not a rest home for saints , but a hospital for sinners .
Yet every Sunday we sinners go to that emergency room to receive first aid , and we leave unmindful that the man who ministered to us is a human being who suffers , too .